Mourinho plays down Ferguson 'snub'

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The Independent Online

Jose Mourinho left the San Siro without a glance towards Sir Alex Ferguson last night but the enigmatic Portuguese denied he had blanked the Manchester United manager.

The Inter Milan coach exited his dugout without exchanging pleasantries with his opposite number at the end of the 0-0 draw in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie, but insisted Ferguson would not have expected anything more.

The time to come together and shake hands will be when the tie is over in a fortnight, according to the former Chelsea boss.

"My dugout is a special dugout because we have a door which gives me the chance to leave it directly," Mourinho explained.

"Yesterday I left a £300 bottle of wine in the hotel with a note saying we would meet each other after the game at Old Trafford.

"I am always close to him and we are always friends and I will be there for him after the second game."

Mourinho has not forgotten Ferguson's taste in wine from the days when they locked horns in the Premier League, but knows his side will have to be on form at Old Trafford for his post-match drink with Ferguson to be a celebratory one for the Inter coach.

"We have got to take the first chance which comes our way," he added.

"We need 100 per cent efficiency, that means the first chance we get must be a goal."

Mourinho predicts extra time and penalties could be required to separate the teams.

"When two great teams are playing, it is difficult that one of them is better for 90 minutes," he said.

"This is top-level football for me. They dominated the first half, but we dominated the second and this is football.

"I cannot say that it was a psychological problem for us in the first half - the problem was Manchester United, who played well.

"But we knew that in some moments of the game it would be hard for us.

"We were the better team in the second half and it took them until the 67th minute to get past us."

Even when United did get past the defence, they met their match in goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who made four good saves to deny Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Julio Cesar is fantastic," Mourinho said.

"He showed some great quality in the first half with two or three saves of huge importance to the team.

"He did not have much to do in the second half, but he still had the same quality and calmness and was very important for us."

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